Shadow Of Mordor Out 30th, But We Won’t Have A Review

Middle-Earth: Shadows Of Mordor looks like quite the prospect. An open world RPG in Tolkein’s universe, developed by Monolith. And you play as the best of all the classes, a ranger! It sounds rather exciting, but we’ve just learned that we’re not going to be able to tell you if it is or not before the game’s released, on the 30th September in the US. Huh.

Update: We’re being informed that console outlets already have review code, after attending a special event, and will have reviews online by the 26th. It seems this is a special treat for the PC version. We will keep you up to date.

Second update: Sadly, when we asked for details as to why PC code was not available when console was, we were told by Warner, “We have no further comment… at this stage.”

We’ve also just been told that despite Steam reporting the 30th Sept for European customers who are pre-ordering, it won’t actually be out over this side until the 3rd October. This isn’t going very well, is it?

Edit: Despite our double checking with Warner before posting about the Steam date, and only being told that the 30th was the release date in the US, it seems this is only the case for retail. The Steam release will be on the 30th in Europe.

And pre-ordering people are – it’s currently listed as the 5th biggest seller on Steam, despite the publishers not planning to send review code out until after the game is released. This, sadly, seems to be following a pattern – the game was announced last year via Gamestop’s in-house magazine, with exclusivity barriers all around. A concerted effort to control coverage. It doesn’t mean the game is bad – not at all – it might be utterly brilliant. It does mean we can’t tell you that, or warn you off spending your money on it, until it’s on sale + the time it takes us to play it.

They’ve not been trying to hide the game. Earlier this month, Sony and Monolith put out an hour of their playing the game:

(I’m pretty sure at 0:54 the Sony dude says, “Penis a picture.”)

See – it looks like it could be ace! The “Nemesis System” means unique enemies throughout. (And an amazingly awkward moment at 8 minutes when they suddenly take themselves off screen and show us an idle animation for ages.) It reminds me of Amalur in a great way. And all manner of complicated extras and inclusions could make for a far more involved solo RPG.

But unfortunately it looks like we (and possibly no one else, unless a sneaky deal has been done with specific publications) won’t be able to give you a buyer’s guide at the point where you can buy. Which rather defeats the point of reviews.


  1. KingFunk says:

    Can someone else point out to me other titles in recent history that did such a thing? Wasn’t there an embargo on WatchUnderscoreDogs? I didn’t play it, but it seems to be generally accepted that it wasn’t a steaming t*rd at least…

    • Anthile says:

      Publishers do embargoes all the time. Bioshock Infinite and South Park had them and those games were very well received. Contrary to popular opinion it has little to do with the actual quality of the game. It’s mostly about controlling the marketing so people can read a review and then immediately go buy the game which would be more difficult if a review came out a week or two before release. Although I’m sure some publishers tried to hide a poorly done game by embargoing it.

      • rpsKman says:

        I watched professional reviews of Infinite and still had time to get the pre-order bonuses, just had to get up early. ;)

      • KingFunk says:

        I didn’t realise South Park had done that – personally I really enjoyed that game.

        However, not even sending review code is slightly different to an embargo, although I’m not sure what the significance of that is.

        It’s the combination of the license AND this that has me worried – much like A:CM, many people would buy this off the strength of the franchise, especially if there is no bad publicity. Here’s hoping the publishers just don’t trust the internet or something…

        • Bradamantium says:

          Difference is an embargo means you’ll likely still have reviews out on launch day, since you can play the game ’til then, just not put out thoughts on it. Without an early review copy, reviewers have to pick it up day one like all the rest and not put a review out until the next day or two or three, depending on how burnt out they want to be.

          Not always the case, but this often looks like a play by the publisher to get some hit and run sales in before the reviews descend and tell folks it’s not worth it.

      • Artist says:

        X Rebirth embargoed reviews by not handing out review copies last year!
        A common deal is that reviews are only to be released on release day. But in such cases the reviewers get copies to prepare the reviews.

      • Dinerenblanc says:

        Actually, Infinite’s embargo ended before the game’s release. I remember since I pre-ordered it after reading the positive review. However, withholding review code until after the release date is not an embargo. An embargo prevents certain material from being distributed, in this case it would be a review. Not sending out review copies at all is not the same.

    • Low Life says:

      As mentioned in a separate comment thread below, embargo is different than an early review copy. Embargos make sense, because that means everyone has time to focus on the game, prepare their review and let the world see it at the same time. I don’t think embargos are that bad even when they’re on the release date, though I’d prefer at least a day or two earlier.

      Not giving reviewers copies of the game in advance means reviewers can start playing the game only after the game is released – and reviews will drip in slowly during the next week or so. A very recent example of this is Destiny.

      • BlackAlpha says:

        But in practice it doesn’t work like that at all, does it? The game first comes out in the US and then in the EU, meaning that some reviewers will get their hands on it first. So the usual (corrupt) suspects will get their hands on the copies first, which allows them to do more damage than if everybody would’ve had access to the game at the same time. So the system you described it still not fair.

        • Deano2099 says:

          It also means you get sites rushing reviews out, because everyone is looking for a review, and every site wants to be the first one with a review up to get that traffic. So you get reviews based on only playing a small portion of the game, or from someone who rushed through it.

          As annoying as embargos can be, they also keep games writers relatively sane, as the staffer that plays it over the course of a week can get a review out on the same day as the one who plays it non-stop for 20 hours. It actually encourages more thorough reviews.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s worth differentiating between release day embargoes (stupid) and not allowing a review site to touch a game before release (very stupid).

      If a company is confident in their game, you’d imagine they’d want early reviews to encourage sales. However, release day embargoes do not always mean they’re trying to hide the game. It’s often just because their marketing strategy is so ridiculously rigid that they want to control all info about a game pre-launch.

      Not allowing a site to play a game before release is generally much more suspect, although still not a reliable indication of concerns. But as consumers, it’s something people should not be happy about – the more views and opinions out there as buyer’s guides, the better it is for the customer. Trying to prevent this is a sucky move, in my view.

  2. moocow says:

    So… like The Sims 4? and Destiny?

    I think it’s an asinine practice, but Shadow of Mordor hardly seems unique these days.

    • h_ashman says:

      Destiny is slightly different given it’s a multiplayer heavy experience so you can’t always get a fair assessment out of it when it’s just reviewers playing it. Same happened with Titanfall if I recall.

    • pullthewires says:

      It’s just another reason not to buy a game on release, especially mainly single-player games, on top of the inevitability of sales, the all-DLC-included bundle, and the patching cycle.

  3. Tei says:

    There are two things in Indian history – one is the incredible optimism and potential of the place, and the other is the betrayal of that potential – for example, corruption. Those two strands intertwine through the whole of Indian history, and maybe not just Indian history.
    Salman Rushdie

  4. Shieldmaiden says:

    There’s a difference between an embargo and not even sending out review code until release. I can’t recall hearing of this happening before, certainly not with a major title.

  5. jjolly says:

    Actually, this is very easy. Monolith will not obtain my pocket change until I see glowing words of praise from my favorite purveyor of glowing words. They are clearly financially secure enough that they do not need my funds to feed them until that time.

    And I’m patient.

    • iainl says:

      Well, quite – there are so many games out in the next few weeks, plus I’ve bought so many that I haven’t yet played, that I really don’t need to get this on release day. When there’s a review that convinces me I want it, I’ll get it, and not before.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      Hope you brought a bigger boat, because a lot of people (myself included) will want to sit in it.

      I’m not going to throw $50 at a title and a developer video. You have to convince me that your game is worth the price you’re asking. That means allowing reviewers to, well, review.

    • iago says:

      But… but… you won’t get the pre-order-only-0-day-already-on-the-disk-DLC!
      Also, you’ll probably torrent it! And then try to buy back your conscience in Steam Sale! For meager 10$! You filthy PC-pirate, you!

      OK, while I AM JOKING here, I’ve seen all these (see above) used as serious-and-valid arguments in recent “why is PC GTA V late, again” discussion. Something is very rotten in pre-order culture.

  6. jasta85 says:

    It does suck when companies won’t let reviewers see the product early, and it does always make me suspicious. However GMG was offering a 25% off coupon for the game so I caved and pre-ordered. While reviews will be delayed at least they have done a ton of gameplay demos in a lot of areas, so they are definitely not shy about showing off the game which is a good sign. I doubt this will be another aliens colonial marines.

  7. Bobka says:

    I’m perfectly happy to wait for reviews. And discounts.

  8. Gog Magog says:

    I can give you a review right now:
    Silmarillion 2: Shadow of Mordor is a faithful recreation of the standard so popular amongst the Anonymous Gangbangers of the 21st century.

  9. dangermouse76 says:

    I am long long…………………long beyond purchasing games without some of idea what it’s about – other than the publishers PR.
    I can wait. Which means so will they.

  10. eggy toast says:

    The concept of pre-ordering is so strange to me, and for a major market title that will be released with or without your early financial support and also not grant you an earlier access to the game than anyone else? There’s no benefit to the customer at all, that I can see.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      Well, yes, that’s because 99% of the time there’s no benefit in pre-ordering video games. But some people get convinced/brain-washed that they should pre-order. It’s very much a fault in human psychology that the game publishers/developers abuse to try to get more sales.

      After all these years of doing pre-orders, big companies have figured out how to best manipulate people into buying the pre-orders. It forms a central part of their business strategy and so they keep doing it and they keep refining it.

      The solution for us, the consumers, is rather simple, though. Get a bit of self control and hold off on pre-ordering. Wait until the game has been released and until a bunch of videos/reviews have come out so that you can judge properly if you really want to buy the game or not. It will save you potentially hundreds of euros in the long run. If you are afraid that you will be missing out on the day-1 DLCs that come with the pre-orders and cost a few euros, just imagine how much DLC you can buy with hundreds of euros.

    • xao says:

      Release day delivery for folks who prefer physical copies is pretty nice.

    • Juke says:

      I’m a very infrequent pre-order-er, but sometimes there’s a combination of confidence from pre-release coverage, trust/loyalty to the publisher, and bonus pre-order content that just makes the value proposition work. If you fully expect to be playing on release day already, then there’s really no trade-off. I did this with both of FIraxis’ XCOM releases, to my full satisfaction. I would probably still consider it for future Mass Effect games. I just like the series and their devs enough to be comfortable pitching in early. I don’t see why that’s so radical you couldn’t comprehend people’s reasons.

      • welverin says:

        My sentiments as well, and entirely safe if done in store at Gamestop. You can cancel your preorder and get your money back after the game is released, so even if the game turns out to be crap you haven’t lost anything but access to a few bucks for a while.


        I don’t understand it either, because there is absolutely no difference between the game now and the game one year from now, when it will most lilkely have been discounted to below 50% at least once. Why is playing XCOM the day after release so much more exciting than playing the exact same game (or, considering patches, a superior version of the game) about a year later that you’re willing to pay twice as much to get that?

  11. Mae says:

    Second-to-last paragraph – Amalur*

  12. Wulfram says:

    Seems to be just a PC thing? Various people have already got their review copies on other platforms

    • TheTingler says:

      It is, yes. Some publishers just occasionally can’t be bothered to send out PC review code. Warner Bros is getting especially bad at this.

  13. Sian says:

    As others have said, I can wait. And just to be sure that there aren’t any shenanigans going on, I’ll wait until after I’ve seen at least a WIT here, a WTF is by TB and maybe a Zero Punctuation. If I like it after that, I might even buy it at full price (though with the backlog of games on my PC… it can probably wait).

  14. nrvsNRG says:

    5th top seller on Steam really doesnt mean much when you see that CS:GO has crept back up to No2 for the last few days, and L4D2 is top only coz of a sale. Slow week basically.

    • phelix says:

      With tens of millions of active Steam users at any given time, I would say it actually does, because it means an awful lot of people are already pre-ordering it.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        Nah… CS:GO has been out for 2 years already, and its at the no2 slot when its not even on a sale. Slow sales weeks always have the same couple of older games that creep back up (DayZ, CS). If Shadow of Mordor cant even
        over take CS, then the pre-orders must be extremely low. Popular pre-orders hit number 1 easy in the week before their release.

  15. Seafort says:

    Looking forward to this. The PC version was pushed up to 30th September release. I think the Xbox One and PS4 versions are still 3rd September though in EU.

  16. blastaz says:

    This looks to be so up my street that I really want to pre order, and it’s priced at 30 quid rather than 50 and it doesn’t have a season pass.

    But the total lack of coverage is a bit off putting and then when the game finally gets some coverage it’s a comment on how they can’t cover the game!

    • Seafort says:

      There is loads of streams of Shadow of Mordor showing you the game and the nemesis system in play like the stream linked in the article above.

      The game will have a season pass it’s just not out yet for PC but will be on day of release.

  17. Mbaya says:

    Disappointing, but I can wait. Release day embargo’s are one thing (and an annoying one at that), this is even more suspect.

    At least there isn’t a pre-order discount or pre-order items that seem to be ‘must have’ this time around, will make the waiting easier.

    The game is looking interesting though, really like the sound of the nemesis system. I suppose I should play Amalur in the meantime, still have to tick that off the list.

  18. Shooop says:

    All it took was two words to kill my enthusiasm for this game: “season pass”.

    • Berzee says:

      If I’d had any previous enthusiasm to be killed, my reply would be, “Same.”

      • Reapy says:

        +1 This game looks like it takes the last steaming dump of bro fisting on tolkien before marketers are done milking its teat dry. Throwing on top of it the words “season pass” doesn’t help any.

        Really the whole concept of ‘season pass’ is insane. Hey, pay a random amount of money for a vague amount of unreleased content that you don’t what it is yet or even if you want it for a game you haven’t played. Wow, what a great deal this sounds like! Much value!

        I could never sell things because I keep expecting more from people.

    • Ryuuga says:

      Yeah, “season pass” sure makes me skeptical of buying right away. What will I be missing? Will there be a so-called GOTY edition later for a reasonable price?

    • xao says:

      Here’s a novel idea: don’t buy the season pass.

      Isn’t choice a good thing for consumers? How does it hurt you if a company offers an option for other people to save some money on DLC?


        It doesn’t hurt, but it gives one an idea of what their market strategy is likely to be.

  19. jonfitt says:

    If the pre-order DLC is desirable that just makes me want to wait until the Game-that-came-out-this-year edition is released and discounted. I have plenty of games to play right now kthx. I got all of the Batmans DLC for peanuts all in one package just by being a bit patient.

    I might be an anomaly, but I’m probably not.

    • Juke says:

      +1 for creation of the GTCOTY bundle. Declaring your aging title “Game of the Year” because you included some expansion packs is mind-boggling to me. What is so disagreeable about calling the thing Complete Edition or the like? Such an odd practice, it almost makes me less likely to pick up the bundle than otherwise.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Well, now a days GOTY isn’t Complete. Rather funny with Civilization 5, which had not-full GOTY, not-full GOLD and then full-Complete

  20. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Having worked with Warner and having no interest in working with them ever again I can tell you they are categorically the worst publisher in the business, shady practice’s all round, so this is nothing new.

  21. mpk says:

    Social Justice Ranger?

  22. derbefrier says:

    Ehhh its not that big of a deal. Console reviews will work for the game itself. The only thing we will miss out on are pc specific stuff like port qwuality etc…. Which unless its terribad rarely gets mentioned anyway and you only need to look t the steam forums to get a general idea of performance.

  23. Nice Save says:

    I don’t know how much credit I put in the theory that they did this to avoid bad reviews, simply because I don’t believe there would be much difference in sales between a badly reviewed game and an unreviewed one.

    Plenty of people buy games without ever reading a review, basing their decision solely on the description. I’ve done this myself, and had mixed results.

    On the other hand, plenty of people who read a bad review will buy the game anyway – I’ve done this too, with about the same results.

    I reckon the number of people who would be put off by a bad review wouldn’t be that much different to the number put off by a lack of reviews, especially given we’re talking about purchasers who are buying within a few days of release. That would tend to suggest allowing reviews as the best course for the publisher, since there’s a chance the reviews will be better than expected, and either way the name of the game will be spread around. Hell, if it’s really bad they might even spark a controversy! How many people bought Duke Nukem Forever just to see if it actually was that bad?

    Of course, we’re all here because we like to read game reviews, so I would imagine that as a group we’re less likely to buy in either case.

    • Juke says:

      True, coverage is coverage. Some benefit to be had in that. But better let the big bad marketing degrees take it from here; our common sense conclusions have no place in the PR department…

  24. gunslingerfry says:

    Penis a picture indeed.

  25. PedroTheHutt says:

    Erm, it’s Tolkien, not Tolkein. Jus’ saying.

    That said, I’m very wary of this game. So I had little intention of buying it to begin with, this doesn’t do much to change that.

  26. 2late2die says:

    it’s currently listed as the 5th biggest seller on Steam

    This is why we can’t have nice things!

    Seriously though, I’m actually excited about this game, but I’m not pre-ordering it. Because A) I’ve been burned before, and B) doing that just means that publishers will keep believing that we’ll buy any ol’ crap before even having a chance to actually see if maybe it’s not crap after all.

    This of course goes double for PC gamers. We keep getting shafted by publishers on regular basis yet we still keep pre-ordering games in droves months in advance. Why would the publishers change anything if they still keep getting their money.

    Nothing is going to change until we as a community decide to make it change.

    • HadToLogin says:

      You’re assuming Valve isn’t fixing those best-seller numbers. Which I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they do.

      But then, it looks like we’re talking about games that sell hundreds of copies, not millions, so it’s rather easy to get on that list.

  27. Fireprufe15 says:

    You all know what this means, right? Shit port alert.

  28. fish99 says:

    The game looks great, and I can see the similarities to Amalur, a game I loved. Wasn’t going to preorder so late reviews won’t affect me, but what it does mean is that I’ll probably wait until xmas and get it cheaper.

  29. LazyAssMF says:

    lol He totaly says “Penis a picture”. :D:D:D

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I’m still trying to figure out what he was suggesting with that hand gesture.

  30. Tayh says:

    Judging from the video, this is going to control like arse on the PC. I’m calling it.

  31. CPLDANABD says:

    Just what I expected from those Monolith bastards. This is why you should join Duty today, and help rid the world of the horrors of The Zone!

  32. Volcanu says:

    Yes, but will there be any missions where I have to follow two orcs having a conversation? If not, then I AM OUT.

  33. vickyt says:

    finally some PC gameplay again from solaris plays:

  34. datafiend says:

    While this is one the few games that I’m to pay full price for, I’m going to wait for a PC port report. I refuse to be burnt by a bad port again.